Irish SMEs believe they can do more to tackle climate change

Survey by Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland highlights appetite for change

Irish firms believe they have a role in tackling climate change but highlight the lack of time and funding as the biggest obstacles, according to a survey by Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).

US billionaire and philanthropist Michael Bloomberg, who has been spearheading a campaign to end coal-burning in the US, has repeatedly argued that governments have failed to act on climate change and it will be up to civil-society in combination with business to address the issue.

The SEAI survey suggests that businesses here believe they can still do a lot more to help tackle climate change with just one in five firms believing they had done all that they could.

Among the most common actions currently being taken by businesses to reduce their energy costs are; to switch energy providers and, to install energy saving lighting, it said.


However, for those who do consider their energy use, the biggest obstacles preventing them from acting are lack of time and lack of funding, the survey found.

The SME sector here spends more than €2 billion annually on energy, of which 10 per cent can be readily saved through good energy management practices, SEAI said.

Lighting, heating and air conditioning are among the typical high energy users in businesses, and so are where the most immediate savings can be made.

The results of the survey were released to mark the opening of the SEAI Energy Show 2019 in Dublin.

"Sectors are going to have to transform themselves if they are to thrive in a decarbonised society," Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton said.

“ Early adopters will seize the enterprise opportunities in a low carbon economy, including the new circular and bio economies,” he said.

“We have seen some pioneers commit to 50 per cent emissions savings. We need more sectors to take up the challenge, developing clusters promoting best practice in their sector,” he said.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times